We’re in it Together

A Poem for World Suicide Prevention Day

By Mary Beth Spang


It took me a while to understand

That I can hold my own hand

And show that I’ll withstand

The tumult of life

In laughter and in strife.

I share this poem to demonstrate an aspect of resilience that is particularly challenging for me to practice: being alone. I was struggling with my often-present fears of abandonment in a recent therapy session, and my therapist pointed out to me that “you can never leave yourself.” I’ve been reflecting on this idea lately and using it as motivation to tolerate spending time by myself. As I spend more time alone, I’m noticing that I am strengthening my self esteem and sense of independence. Some activities that I’ve enjoyed doing by myself include running, stretching, listening to guided meditations, writing, reading, and coloring.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day that provides an opportunity to raise awareness of suicide and suicide prevention.

Every year I recognize this day because I am determined to alleviate the stigma surrounding suicide in an effort to help those of us who struggle with suicidal thoughts. When we are able to talk about our suicidal thoughts, we are more likely to get help, and we are therefore less likely to engage in suicidal behavior.

A few years ago, I got my second tattoo (pictured above) which is part of a vow that I made to myself, “in laughter and in strife, I vow to choose life.” The vow means that no matter how badly I feel, or how depressed I get — that I will not choose suicide as an outlet. I will persist through life regardless of how much pain I may be in, because I know that to appreciate the laughter in life means also to grapple with the strife.  

By including those words in my poem, I cherish, remember, and honor this vow to observe World Suicide Prevention Day.

Altogether, the poem reminds me of the vow I made to myself and expresses that although I may continue to struggle, I am also continually capable of cultivating independence and resilience. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, these free and confidential resources are available to support:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: Text HELLO to 741-741
YouthLine: Text teen2teen to 839863 or call 1-877-968-8491
The Trevor Project: Text START to 678678 or call 1-866-488-7386
Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860

Story Credits

Mary Beth Spang is a therapist in Pittsburgh, PA. She works with youth ages 18-25 living with mental illness, helping them to transition into a more independent lifestyle equipped with coping skills for managing their mental health. Diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder herself, she also writes about her personal experience living with and managing mental illness. Her writing has appeared in The Mighty, Disability Disclosed, and Germ Magazine. 

Web Producer: Will Halim

Disclaimer: the narrative expressed in the article is solely those of the author(s).
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Our Stories of the Same Causes

Are you angered by the death of George Floyd? We are.

Are you concerned that property destruction and violence are driving the focus away from peaceful and just demonstrations? We are.

Are you ready for Pittsburgh to go back to normal? We are not.

Murder in broad daylight, by agents of the state, is horrific and shocking and cannot stand.

But there are many other and more subtle ways to choke life from BIPOC, all very normal in the before times, such as:

All of this normal, accepted behavior is slow motion violence:  failing to act systematically, diligently and persistently, as documented by a scathing scientific study (commissioned by City of Pittsburgh) that indicates that Pittsburgh is the worst city in America for Black People.


Yes, we ALL want to feel comfortable and good about ourselves– displaying black screen as avatars, discussing/arguing in social media echo-chambers, posting public statements that you “stand with them.” But feeling comfortable without changing a thing at the expense of BIPOC, especially our Black brothers and sisters, can no longer be an option.

Please watch this video of Van Jones about latent danger of racism and then look at yourself at the mirror. Next, ask people in your own network and circle of influence to do the same.

Back to the old normal is not acceptable.

What are you going to do to create a better now?


Will Halim
Founding Director of Storyburgh


Storyburgh is run by freelancers/part-timers who each have own individual views. The opinion expressed here is my own and does not represent that of the entire group.


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